Dogs are like babies – everything goes in their mouths. They chew on toys, bones and sticks. They pick up anything and everything they find lying on the floor or in the yard. You cannot watch your dog 24/7.
What would you do if your dog started to choke? Give them a couple of minutes to dislodge the object themselves. They may be able to cough it up without your help. However, if your dog is pawing at its face and struggling to get air, there are a few things you can do yourself to help dislodge the object:
1. Look in your dog’s mouth to see if the object is visible. If so, try reaching in with your fingers and pull it out.
2. For smaller dogs, lift them by their hind legs off the ground and give them a few quick shakes.
3. For larger dogs, basically do the same thing but keep the front legs on the ground and lift the back legs. Make sure the head is pointed downwards and give the dog a few good shakes.
4. The Heimlich Maneuver can be performed on dogs (and cats too!). Again, make sure your dog’s head is pointed downwards.
Stand behind your dog and put one fist against the soft spot on its abdomen just below its rib cage. Take your other hand and place it over your fist and push inwards and upwards a few times. Do this firmly but not too hard.
Here is a video that demonstrates all of these methods:
Once you have removed the object and your dog is still not breathing then begin artificial respiration and if it has no pulse CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). Seek immediate medical attention.
Artificial Respiration for Dogs:
1. Lay your dog on his right side on a flat, hard surface.
2. Straighten out your dog’s neck.
3. For a small dog, place your mouth around his nose and mouth, or just cup one hand around his muzzle and mouth to keep it shut and put your mouth completely around his nose.
4. Begin to blow air gently into his nose until you see your dog’s chest rise or expand.
5. Wait for the air to expel and then repeat blowing air back into your dog’s nose (one every three seconds).
6. Once normal breathing begins, stop.
CPR for Dogs:
1. Kneel down next to your dog with your arms extended out over him, cupping one hand on top of the other.
2. Place your hands on your dog’s ribs just where his elbows meet his chest.
3. Compress an inch and release quickly, about two compressions a second.
4. After 15 compressions, lean forward and blow air into your dog’s nose using the respiratory assist method above.
5. Continue alternating between each every 15 compressions to 2 rescue breaths, until your dog’s breathing and heartbeat return.
6. Once your dog is breathing on his own, call your vet. You will want him to examine your dog to be sure your dog suffered no internal injuries.
Here is an excellent video to demonstrate how to perform Artificial Respiration and CPR on your dog.
Remember, these techniques will work on cats, too!